Amazon Robotics names 2023 Day One Fellowship Program recipients
Program empowers students from diverse backgrounds to become industry leaders through scholarship, research, and career opportunities.
Amazon Robotics recently announced seven new recipients of the Amazon Robotics Day One Fellowship, a program established to support exceptionally talented students from diverse technical and cultural backgrounds who are pursuing master-of-science degrees. The program was developed to support emerging leaders in science from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM, awarding scholarships, mentorship, and career opportunities.
The fellowship program, now in its third year, was launched in 2021 and has supported 27 talented master's students since its inception. This year’s program adds new recipients from seven universities, including Brown University, Boston University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Stanford University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
The fellowships cover tuition, living expenses, and other costs related to the recipients' study of robotics, engineering, computer science, and related fields. Fellowship recipients also have the opportunity to participate in Amazon Robotics’ internship program. During their summer at Amazon Robotics, the Fellows connect with and receive mentorship from industry experts and Amazon leaders to gain hands-on experience in their chosen fields. Fellows seeking full-time industry positions also have the opportunity to join Amazon at the conclusion of their graduate studies.
“Our aim is to empower talented students from diverse technical backgrounds to pursue advanced degrees in engineering and science,” said Tye Brady, chief technologist for Amazon Robotics. “We are excited to both welcome and support such an impressive group of students to join our community of builders at Amazon.”
The seven recipients of the 2023 Day One Amazon Robotics Fellowships are
Soline Boussard, Harvard University: Boussard is currently pursuing a master’s in data science at Harvard University. Originally from the Bay Area, she earned a bachelor's in science, technology, and economics, as well as minors in data science and economics, from the University of Pennsylvania. Boussard’s passion lies at the intersection of data science and social policy, and she hopes to leverage her skills to develop innovative solutions to mitigate biases in social policies.
Oscar De La Garza, Northeastern University: De La Garza is currently pursuing a master's in robotics from Northeastern University, having earned his bachelor's in engineering with computing at Olin College of Engineering. As a researcher at the Olin Robotics Lab, he developed an interdisciplinary skill set while serving as technical lead on several autonomous-vehicle projects. He is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between autonomous robotics and humans and sees a future where humans and robots work together to solve complex problems.
Nelson Hidalgo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Hidalgo is pursuing his master’s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab in the field of affective computing. Originally from Moron, Cuba, Hidalgo came to the U.S. in 2015 and earned his bachelor’s in computer science and computational neuroscience from MIT, where he developed an interest in human augmentation technology and neuroscience. Following his graduate studies, he aspires to design emotion-aware AI that augments people’s cognitive health and performance.
Bisrat Mekonnen, Stanford University: Mekonnen is currently pursuing a master’s of engineering at Stanford University, after earning a bachelor of science from Carnegie Mellon University in mechanical engineering. During his undergraduate studies, he also participated in Carnegie Mellon's Formula Racing Team, which placed first in the United States and second in North America. Mekonnen was the team’s Driver Interface Manager, leading a group of 10 that designed and manufactured all driver-critical systems on the vehicle. His dream is to one day teach a class at a university in Ethiopia.
Julian Poindexter, Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Poindexter is pursuing his master’s in robotics engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), where he also earned his bachelor’s degree. His passion for research began at WPI’s Novel Engineering of Swarm Technologies Lab, where he completed his senior project and pursued additional research during undergraduate and graduate studies. His research work involved developing modular gripper hardware for robots used in machine learning research. Poindexter’s current research focuses on using reinforcement learning in swarm robotics to move non-uniform objects.
Daniel Viñals-Garcia, Boston University: Viñals-Garcia is pursuing a master's degree in robotics and autonomous systems at Boston University. He is an interdisciplinary mechanical engineer with a passion for robotics, mechatronics, and the fusion of AI with hardware development. His industry experience includes an internship with a consumer goods startup and a stint at MIT Lincoln Labs, where he played a key role in developing hardware for AI-powered, semi-autonomous medical devices. During his undergraduate studies, he worked at BU’s EPIC Manufacturing Lab, where he collaborated with students to translate their designs into tangible products, and he also contributed to research on autonomous drones at BU’s Robotics Lab.
Rio Young, Brown University: Young is currently pursuing a master’s in computer science from Brown University, after earning a bachelor’s of engineering from Virginia Tech. With a lifelong passion for solving puzzles and cracking codes, she has always had an interest in computer science and takes pride in building apps that can be used by others to improve their lives. After completing her studies, she aspires to become a software engineer and create an app that helps people learn foreign languages through listening and speaking.